Stores Closed on Labor Day a Hundred Years Ago

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today

Monday, September 7, 1914:  A foolish girl I was today. Took it into my head that I wanted to go to town to buy some things this afternoon. Well I went. Rode in with Pa. While on the way I thought it will be altogether useless, as the store would not be open since it was Labor Day.

Recent Photo of Watsontown
Recent photo of  downtown Watsontown

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Labor Day? . . . Oh, of course, this was the first Monday in September in 1914. This year Labor Day was on the earliest possible date; in 1914 it was the latest possible date.

Stores are open around here on Labor Day.  In 1914,  it must have been a bigger deal if stores were closed– though it apparently was a bit random whether schools were open. In 1912, Grandma wrote:

Had to go to school, even if it is labor day. We had this day off last year. . .

September 2, 1912

29 thoughts on “Stores Closed on Labor Day a Hundred Years Ago

  1. Gallivanta has a good point….perhaps some stores (relating to farming) were open…? But, I guess, in 1914, most stores were of the “general” type and sold everything! What’s the saying: from cradles to coffins?

    1. I’ve definitely seen hundred-year-old advertisements for various types of stores (shoe, women’s clothing, etc.) in the nearby town of Milton. I can’t specifically remember ads for farm supply stores, but my guess is that Milton had some.

    1. Wow, it was a really new holiday! My sense is that there was a lot of interest in labor issues and unionization in the early 20th century in response to the terrible working conditions in some factories.

  2. When I was a child, grocery stores and gas stations were open on Labor Day — but that was it. Even some of those closed. School never began until after Labor Day. It was a big celebration. And after Labor Day? We put the white dresses and playclothes back into the closet until the next Memorial Day!

  3. This prompted me to research (aka Google) when Labor Day was first recognized. 1882.
    As another commented, it seems that stores are open most holidays these days.

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